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Study: Marijuana Withdrawal is Real

Kicking pot has been found to cause withdrawal symptoms similar to nicotine in regular users.

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By Bryan Le

09/27/12

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Legalization advocates, and a number of stoners, have long claimed that weed isn't physically addictive like cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs—but a new study may contradict this notion, revealing that quitting marijuana can cause withdrawal symptoms as severe as withdrawal from nicotine. Australian researchers rounded up more than 50 regular pot users and asked them to abstain from the drug for two weeks; they found that many experienced withdrawal symptoms that interfered with their daily lives. "It's very similar to what people experience with tobacco," says study co-author Alan J. Budney. "It makes you irritable. It makes you restless. It makes it hard to sleep." Although withdrawal symptoms were not found to be life-threatening, they were worse among heavy users, many of whom ended up using more marijuana after the abstinence period was over. "There is a common belief among the public that marijuana is not very addictive and so it is not a big problem," says Scott E. Lukas, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology. "It is not enough to simply say, 'I want to quit,' but, instead, the person must be able to withstand the turmoil of going through withdrawal." Nearly 7% of Americans over the age of 12 use marijuana, according to a 2009 report by the CDC. And while the debate continues as to whether the drug is dangerous or benign, it has been linked to increased bronchitis, asthma, lung cancer and testicular cancer.

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